In a recent study from Norfolk and elsewhere, researchers found that obesity, as measured by body mass index (BMI), is linked to an increased risk for Crohn’s disease but not ulcerative colitis.
Crohn’s disease is a chronic inflammatory bowel disease that affects the lining of the digestive tract. It can sometimes cause life-threatening complications.
Crohn’s disease can cause abdominal pain, diarrhea, weight loss, anemia, and fatigue.
Ulcerative colitis is an inflammatory bowel disease that causes inflammation and ulcers (sores) in the digestive tract.
Ulcerative colitis affects the innermost lining of the large intestine (colon) and rectum. Symptoms usually develop over time, rather than suddenly.
In the study, the team analyzed data from five big studies with BMI and waist-hip ratio numbers and other lifestyle factors to examine the link between obesity and Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis risk.
They confirmed 563 incident cases of Crohn’s disease and 1,047 incident cases of ulcerative colitis among 601,009 participants during the follow-up.
The team found that compared to normal BMI, obesity was linked to an increased risk of Crohn’s disease.
Each 5-kg/m2 increment in early adulthood BMI (age 18 to 20 years) was linked to a big increase in Crohn’s disease risk.
An increase in waist-hip ratio was linked to an increased risk of Crohn’s disease, but the association was not strong.
There were no associations observed between obesity and ulcerative colitis risk.
These results suggest that the growing burden of obesity is likely contributing to the increasing incidence of Crohn’s disease worldwide.
Future work should consider examining the precise mechanisms through which obesity may influence the development of Crohn’s disease.
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The research is published in Clinical Gastroenterology & Hepatology and was conducted by Simon S. M. Chan et al.
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